Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Love (04/27/06)
By Anita Neuman
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I was tucked warmly in Damien’s embrace, enjoying the dizzy pattern he was tracing on my bare back. My mind was deliciously vacant, partly because of the wine we’d shared all evening, and partly because I refused to think about home. My sparkling new tennis bracelet shimmered in the candlelight and left colours dancing in my head, even when I closed my eyes. I rolled over and found myself tumbling to the floor. Damien pulled me up by my hair and slapped me when I laughed at him. He was a lousy drunk.
The knock on the front door came a few minutes later. We both ignored it at first, but then Holden’s voice soared through the open window.
“Galya, I’m here to take you home,” he called. How he could sound so blasted polite while he was yelling is beyond me.
Ironically, Damien’s voice was barely above a whisper, but his words chilled me to the core. “Put your clothes on, whore. Your husband’s here. Again.”
I dressed quickly while Damien went to the door. I was still buttoning my blouse when Holden’s face appeared in the bedroom doorway.
“Why do you keep coming for me?” I whispered, not looking him in the eye.
“You’re my wife,” he said, as if that explained everything.
Damien strolled into the room and brushed past Holden with just enough force to let him know who was in control. He flopped on the bed and yanked me down beside him. “Your wife, huh?” he sneered. “What about squatter’s rights? I think she’s more mine than yours by now.” His arm snaked around me and held on in a way that sent a vulgar message to Holden. “You’re welcome to keep my brats, if that’s what you want. Let them keep thinking you’re their daddy. But Galya stays.”
Holden only looked at me. “You’re my wife,” he said again. Why was he stuck on that point? How could it possibly matter anymore.
I shrugged out of Damien’s grasp, grateful that he let me stand without a fight. “I’ve gotta go.” I sounded like a teenager who’d missed curfew. I felt like a tramp who’d not yet gotten everything that was coming to her.
I didn’t step out of his reach fast enough. Damien’s grip bruised my arm and held me firmly in place. “You’re not going this time, Sugar. You haven’t fulfilled our contract yet.”
“Contract?” It was the first word Holden addressed to Damien. It sounded a bit sarcastic.
Damien answered with venom. “Your wife has been accepting some rather expensive gifts from me, and by my calculations, she hasn’t fully earned them yet.”
I’m not sure what reaction I expected from Holden, but when he reached for his wallet, I suddenly saw him for the man that he was.
“How much?” he asked.
“You can’t afford her now.”
“A thousand dollars?”
I choked at the words. Damien had certainly spent more than that in the last month alone. And Holden didn’t have that kind of cash.
Damien choked, too. “A grand? Is that all she’s worth to you? Forget it. Go home and look after your kids.”
Damien stood and shoved me roughly behind him. Two steps brought him right up to Holden’s face. “Let’s cut to the chase, scum,” he spat. “I’ll let her walk out of this room for fifteen thousand. If she’s not worth that to you, then you’ve got three seconds to get out of my face.”
I closed my eyes against the sight of him walking away. That was it. Damien would probably take his money’s worth out of me that very night and kill me before morning. Three seconds passed without the sound of footsteps. I waited until I couldn’t stand the silence anymore. I looked up. Holden was writing a cheque. Damien looked as stunned as I was. I tried to focus my brain on what was really happening. It didn’t make sense.
Holden dropped the cheque on the bed and reached for me. “Galya, I’m here to take you home.”
I put my hand tentatively in his. “Why?”
“You’re my wife.”
Based on the Biblical story of Hosea and Gomer.
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